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Experts Concerned About Gene Patenting

Several legal experts and authors sounded a cautious note about gene patenting. They gathered yesterday at Chicago-Kent College of Law for a conference called “Who Owns Your Body?”

Author and doctor Michael Crichton called it “crazy” to allow people to patent genes, and the genetic codes of diseases like hepatitis C.

CRICHTON: By all means, you want to patent a test, be my guest. You want to make a drug, be my guest. You want to improve something in nature, you want to make something that lasts longer, is pure, be my guest. But you don’t own the disease.”

Crichton called on lawmakers to pass a bill in Congress that would prohibit the patenting of human genetic material.

Several experts said this patenting means scientists may have to pay money and get permission before they can do research. They said that can have a chilling effect on curing disease.

But one researcher said genetic patents have not had the impact many predicted, although he said more studies are needed.

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